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Consumer Confidential: CFPB celebrates record of consumer protection — except for the whole watchdog thing

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Kathleen Kraninger marked her first six months as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week, and the agency celebrated by releasing a scorecard of her accomplishments.

The listed achievements highlight Kraninger's stated goal of shifting the bureau to more of an educational role, rather than being at the forefront of holding businesses accountable for illegal or abusive practices.

They also illustrate what consumer advocates have been saying since President Trump took office: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now barely in the consumer-protection game.

"Despite the handful of enforcement cases cited by the CFPB to commemorate this dubious anniversary, the number of enforcement actions completed by the bureau has plunged in the Trump era," said Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen's Corporate Presidency Project, which tracks changes amid the current push for deregulation.

"While it's gratifying that the CFPB is still filing some new enforcement cases, the numbers clearly show that Trump's CFPB is putting corporate interests well before consumer protection," he told me.

I'll state up front that I had a bunch of questions for the bureau about its Kraninger scorecard, which I tried repeatedly to have answered. No one at the CFPB responded.

 

I did, however, receive a statement from Kraninger.

"It is an honor and privilege to serve American consumers," she said. "As director, my focus is to prevent harm to consumers by using all the tools Congress gave us, including education, regulation, supervision and enforcement. I look forward to building on the efforts and progress of these first six months."

Note how that list of tools places education ahead of regulation, supervision and enforcement. This is consistent with Kraninger's past comments about her vision for the CFPB.

"Empowering consumers to help themselves, protect their own interests, and choose the financial products and services that best fit their needs is vital to preventing consumer harm and building financial well-being," Kraninger said in April during a speech to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

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